Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Rain Makes The Ground Firm

"I have a question," I told Nate, "I know Brix's death was quite unexpected, but didn't you have any inkling about his illness before he committed suicide? With those symptoms, surely you had a clue or two."

He considered it for a moment.

"Well... I guess him being HIV positive crossed my mind at least once. But the thought, aside from being horrible, seemed farfetched, so I dismissed it. I told myself, 'I am negative, so how on Earth would he be positive?' I was still ignorant of his cheating habits, remember? I trusted him with all my heart. Besides, that goddamn virus was unfamiliar to me back then; I know almost nothing about it," he clarified.

"Okay... Fair enough," I said, "What happened next?"

He took a deep breath before continuing, "After discovering Brix's treachery, I began to see myself as a filthy, ragged doll. An object to be used with no need for respect. A wasted human being stripped off from his purpose in life. Someone whose expiration date was already tattooed across his face, someone without a future to look forward to... I did my best to look happy in front of my family and my friends. However, in my mind, I knew that I'd never feel normal again."

"You didn't seek help? Did you get yourself tested?" I questioned.

"Why would I when I already have limited time?" he countered, "I focused on fully submitting myself to carnal pleasures. It was actually a bit mild at first. I started by bringing various men as dates to places frequented by Brix and me. It should be a place that meant a lot to us, because I wanted to desecrate its significance and the memories it kept. Then, I would lead them to my apartment so that I could fuck them 'til they're sore—sometimes, the other way around—right in the same bed where Brix used to cheat on me... The bottoms who I topped and the tops who bottomed me were mostly men I know nothing about. Faceless strangers whose only desire was pure mindless sex. After that, I became much, much wilder. An uncontrolled beast. I tried a ton of things: shady massage parlors, random public encounters, bathhouses, outdoor sex, threesomes, orgies, BDSM... Even illegal drugs... I turned into an illogical maniac and an irresponsible bitch. That was me for almost 2 years. The amount of sex I had was too numerous that I had lost count how many the unprotected ones were."

"All of that just for revenge... Did you tell them your status?" I uttered, perplexed.

Nate seemed to figure out what was going on in my head, so he defended, "I was blinded with anger and revenge, Sep. I locked away the old Nate deep inside, the old me who's honest and uncorrupted, then I buried the key together with Brix six feet below the ground."

An awkward silence fell between us. I know I should feel sorry for my friend, but I couldn't help being judgmental. Engaging in unprotected sex while knowing you're positive is like sentencing innocent people to a slow death, I thought, spreading the deadly virus like that, it's unspeakable.

I pushed my mind to focus on understanding him instead, setting my subjective feelings aside, and asked, carefully, "Were you satisfied? After everything you've done?"

"A part of me says yes... Somehow, everything I did felt kind of liberating... It helped with the pain one way or another..." he answered slowly.

"How about the other parts? What did they say?" I probed.

Nate stared at me, unsure, and said, "One night, while I was grinding my ass on top of someone, an epiphany struck me. I don't know exactly how, but it was rather uninvited. I stopped, climbed out of the bed without a word, and went straight to the bathroom, much to my fuck buddy's dismay. For a while, he pounded continuously at the door, very worried, but I ignored him... Inside there, as I surveyed myself in front of the mirror, a part of me felt extremely exhausted. Suddenly, I became aware of how tired I was. How every muscle and bone in my body were already numb from all the nonsense I did. Another part showed me how foolish and weak I have become. How I let myself be driven by rage, by vengeance. How I profaned my body like a disposable rag. Then another said I had enough, that the time has come to end the evil streak I had begun. And one part was full of regrets. I could see all of them in front of me. All the innocent people I had involved in my madness. I could see them pointing at me, shouting obscenities, hurling insults and blame... I don't know how long exactly I was in there. When I came out, the guy was already gone, perhaps pissed off with the sudden turn of events, but I no longer cared. I lay there in my bed that night, realizations continued to float inside my head. I had thought that no matter what I do, no matter how much I abuse my body using sex, revenge was evidently futile. Brix was long gone; I can no longer inflict back the pain he had given me. It was myself I was already hurting, not him. I had beaten myself up, voluntarily taking the blame for his sins."

I remained silent, studying him closely.

"I know it took me quite a while to realize all of that," he chuckled, "But better late than never, right?"

I found myself smiling again. Nate really was something, like a complex piece of work that requires a chunk of your time to fully grasp its deep and abstract meaning. Headache-inducing, in other words, if you'd think too much about it.

"I guess..." I said, coolly, "Now that you're a changed man, how did you redeem yourself?"

"Well, it wasn't easy, you know. Forgiving, letting go... The pain still lingered inside, but I couldn't do much about it, so I decided to face once and for all the root of the problem," he explained, "I went to visit Brix's grave. For the first time. Alone."

"You never visited before?" I repeated, slightly surprised.

"Would that I could... If I went there prematurely, I would have just kicked his tombstone. Maybe spit at it too," he said, "Things I might regret later on."

I nodded.

"Sitting there beside him, I fought back the tears as they filled my eyes. I told myself beforehand that I would not cry, but I couldn't help it, so I let them fall," he shared, "I talked to him, spilling the contents of my heart and my mind. I ended up saying a lot: the bottled-up frustrations I kept for so long, the agony I experienced, the difficulties I faced and endured, the various dirty escapades I had sought; basically everything that happened to me after he left. I shouted at him, I scolded him for his screw ups, I laughed, I cried some more, and then I kept silent. I was lucky no one was there but me. You might think I'm insane if you had seen me that time... After my dramatic monologue, it occurred to me how badly I miss Brix. I missed being with him, sharing stories with him, complaining to him, asking him for advices, laughing with him, arguing with him, sleeping beside him, hugging and kissing him while saying how much I love him, pleasuring him... That moment, I wanted him back so that I could say goodbye properly. Face to face. That day, I decided to finally forgive him. And I forgave myself as well. I realized I should start the path towards healing. It's time to leave it all behind and face the bigger problem. As I left the cemetery, I felt like a ton lighter. After 2 years, I've tasted freedom once more. Freedom from all the chains that kept me tethered to him. Freedom from the intense pain. Freedom from the overwhelming regrets."

"Wow, Nate..." was all I managed to say.

"Like I said, it wasn't easy," he reminded, "A week later, I got myself tested. It's confirmed; I'm positive, and my CD4 levels were quite low already."

"Early detection is essential for someone who's infected," I supplied, "It helps them manage their disease more properly."

He nodded and said, "I began practicing safe sex and I always make sure that my partner is aware of my status. I won't mind if he backs out; I fully respect their decision. I also decided to become an advocate for HIV prevention. Doing that, I thought, might somehow make up for all the people I consciously infected. Redemption for the evil acts I committed. I'm still a volunteer until now... Anyway, after another week, I left the apartment once and for all, going back to my parents to stay with them. I don't want to be alone as much as possible. I began to spend more time with my family, as well as my friends; they had been extremely worried. I told them the truth about Brix's death and the effect it had on me. I told them my status too. They were devastated, especially my parents. I got an earful from them, believe me. But they understood and supported me nonetheless. They remind me almost every day to keep myself healthy and in shape, admonishing me whenever I fail to follow... Lastly, from time to time, I still visit Brix, to talk to him and enjoy the peace that his grave gives..."

It was quiet for several minutes as I try to absorb all of it. Nate fixed his hair, waiting for me to react.

"I never expect that there would be such a life as difficult as yours. If I were in your shoes, I would have no idea on how to continue living," I thought out loud.

"Sep..." he said softly, "Yes, there would be instances wherein love may become frustratingly confusing and life could be insanely difficult. But what you mustn't fail to do is to keep on fighting to survive; you owe it to yourself since you already made it far. The future is a mystery that you should always get excited about. You're still young. It's perfectly okay to make mistakes. Make as many as you can, if you must, and then learn from them."

"Is it really frightening, Nate? Already knowing your end?" I innocently asked.

He chuckled heartily, putting his arm around my shoulders, and said, "Sep, when things go grim, don't see it as an end. Instead, look at it as another beginning, a new chapter in life... That's what I do."

"One last question though," I said, hesitating a little.

He nodded.

I looked down and asked, "In case of a different situation, one in which you are well, do I have a chance? I mean, with you?"

He gave me warm smile before he answered, "I want to be honest with you, Geosef... If that's the case, then I would still say no. I am sorry. Believe me, I am... One day, when  you are older and much more experienced, I'm sure you'll understand why."

With that, Nate and I agreed to remain good friends.

We continued our friendship even after I stopped joining clans for good. Over the years, we made it a point to catch up every now and then. He was fond of listening to my experiences, often reminding me whenever I fail to mention the lessons I've gained from them. And I also enjoyed hearing his stories about him being a volunteer and an advocate against HIV. He would usually lecture me about safe sex and he would constantly advise me to get tested. I was glad that he's having fun in spite of the struggle he's battling within. I made sure that he can always count on me, in addition to the immense support he gets from his family and other friends. Eventually, however, his body began to weaken, so our conversations became mostly through calls and texts. I became exceedingly busy at work, so there was no time to visit him in person—something he said he perfectly understand.

Until early last year, news reached me that Nate finally succumbed to the ill effects of AIDS.

I went to his wake, and the first thing that I asked his Mom was, "Who was with him when he died? Did he suffer before his body gave up?"

To which she tearfully answered, "No, I believe Nathan died happy. We were with him on his final moments... Smiling like that before he took his last breath, like there's nothing wrong. I know he wanted to make it easier for us."

Surely, I learned a lot from Nate. Submitting yourself to pain and then surviving it, learning to forgive completely, and maintaining an unwavering hope are some of it. Hearing his mother's words, I suddenly remembered what he told me once; inspiring words that I will never ever forget.

He said, "Do not pity me, Geosef. Pity Brix instead. He died alone and broken. Isn't that the most horrible way to go? I won't let that happen to me, I tell you. Unlike him, I have the courage to steer my way back on the right course. I know things won't be easy... But I guess fighting for your life is what makes it worth living."

I felt my heavy heart go lighter, and then I smiled. Indeed, the ground becomes firm after the rain.


  1. After the heaetbreaking prev post ito naman something nakelangan basahin ng lahat , kung saan man c nate ngayon his now happy and hope nagkita na cla ni brix happy and contented ...

    Galing ng writer mhl na kita sep opppps iloveu na haha

    1. Yes, I want to think na masaya na si Nate sa piling ni Brix ngayon.

      Maraming salamat Josh! :)

  2. Una, ang ganda nang pagkakalahad ng kwento aabangan mo talaga 'yung kasunod na nangyari 'pag naumpisahan mong basahin 'yung first part then pag 'yung last part na 'yung binasa mo babalikan mo naman 'yung nauna.

    Pangalawa, ang lungkot ng istoryang ito. Ang hirap ng kalagayan ni Nate pero nakuha niyang mabuhay ng positibo at nagkaroon pa ng purpose 'yung pagkakasakit niya. Siguro 'pag 'yung iba or 'pag ako --- suicide ang katapat nun. May mga tao kasing mahina 'pag masyadong mabigat ang problema, hindi lahat katulad ni Nate.

    Pangatlo, this series should be read by many. Hindi ko lang alam kung paano.

    1. Una, maraming salamat Kuya Ramil, as usual. *hehe* Nahirapan ako isulat ang storyang ito, sa totoo lang. Bukod sa marupok na ang memorya ko, medyo masalimuot pang alalahanin ang kwento ni Nate sa'kin... Atsaka yung balak kong isang post lang, naging tatlo.

      Pangalawa, parang naging older brother na ang tingin kay Nate. Sobrang hanga ako sa resolve niya. Sobrang lungkot lang nung pumanaw siya. Everybody agreed na it's too soon. :(

      Pangatlo, sana nga po. Well, if it's really good, then it will be read for sure. :)

  3. Ang saya ng araw ko, tapos binasa ko to, buti nasa bahay ako kasi yung luha ko parang dam! Tears wont stop from falling down. Reading this brings mixture relief, heartbreak, loss and hope. Yet, it still ended well. Nate is an inspiration. Thank you for sharing his story.

    1. Umiyak ka nga ah, Babykat? Sorry naman po.

      Thank you for reading ha. :)

  4. First honor ka ba?

    Kase, gusto kitang sabitan ng maraming medalya.hehe

    After reading the story, part to part, parang narinig ko sa background yung hiyawan at palakpakan dahil sa ganda ng kwento at ng pagkakalahad.(naks!)

    Nakakatuwang isipin na sa kabila ng tragedy sa ibang part, may magandang ending pa rin pala ang kwento. Sana may mga kwentong ganito pa sa mga susunod mong posts Sep. Astig talaga. Pramis. :)

  5. Sep, First Honor ka ba?

    Kase, gusto kong sabitan ka ng maraming medalya.hehe

    After reading the story, part to part, para akong nakakarinig ng masigabong palakpakan sa background dahil sa ganda ng kwento at sa pagkakalahad nito. (naks!)

    Nakakatuwang isipin na sa kabila ng tragedy sa ibang part, darating din pala sa isang makabagbag damdaming ending.

    1. Pick-up line ba yan, Papa Froi? Kasi kinilig ako eh. *hihi*

      Maraming salamat! Sa sobra enjoy mo, napa-doble pa ang comment mo. :P

    2. hehe. sorry naman. olats kase 'tong internet connection namin, kala ko di napublish kaya inulit ko.hehe

      Kaya ngayon, Im looking forward to such kind of inspirational stories. :)

    3. *hahaha* Madalang ang ganito sa blog ko, minsan lang ako makapagsulat ng ganito. Yata. :P

  6. Goes to show why we shouldn't let our emotions run our lives. Pero who am I to say that di ba? I didn't go through what he did. In the end though, what's important is that he realized his mistakes and forgave Brix and himself.

  7. Happy and sad at the same time. Thanks for sharing this, Sep. Truly a great story. John :)

    1. Walang anuman, John. As always, thanks for reading. :)

    2. Next entry ba eh balik na ba sa mga "escapades" mo? Every time may entry ka pa naman na ganun eh tigas titig sa screen sa kakakabasa hahaha :P

    3. *hahahaha* Titignan ko ha, John. Medyo dumadalang na kasi lately ang mga nararanasan kong escapades na blog-worthy. :P

  8. cryola ang badesa mae. napatunayan kong marunong din palang lumuha ang mga diwatang katulad ko. charms! napakagandang kwento, sep. :) kapupulutan ng aral. :)

    1. I feel horrible na makapagpaluha ng isang diwatang gaya mo, Nyora. Humihingi ako ng patawad... Charms din! *haha* Maraming salamat sa papuri! :)

  9. i knew it. :)

    hopeful ending for a tragic tale. :)

  10. It's our nature to feel sad for people who come upon such obstacles, if not tragedies in life - but we should know that we must be strong for them first - as most of the time, they do not need someone to wallow in sadness with them, but someone to show them that they're there for them and that life goes on. Great story Spe, and really nice ending. Great that he didn't cave in and was full of hope.

    1. I try to be that encouraging kind of "someone". *hehe*
      Thanks Zai! *smooch!*

  11. Wow. Like what Zai said, great story. It's one awesome reading. Inspiring to say the least.

    Cheers to Nate, wherever he may be.

    1. Thanks Jeki! It wasn't easy writing this. I hope Nate is already happy up there. :)

  12. I have read the last part of this series over and over again so that I will remember the lessons but I am finding difficult words to say as a comment. This mirrors what I am experiencing in life. Not that I am the one sick but someone else, and he is closest to me. He does not see life as hopeful but instead waste it for unimportant things. If I could tell, I will but maybe one day when I am also ready to share.

    1. Finding it difficult to put words to comment, sorry.

    2. I thought you have questions as what you said in the second part. Were they all answered already?

      I hope you can share it soon. I'm interested to know. Thanks for reading Cher Jo. :)

  13. It's been a long time since I felt an emotion as strong as this. I can literally feel my heart stir---out of joy, despair, disappointment, relief... Thank you for sharing, Sep. It moved me into a deep, personal level, albeit totally unrelated to death and HIV. I hope to read more from you. *hugs*

    1. You're very much welcome, Ryan. I'll try to write more. :)


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